21 Kid-Friendly Things To Do This Weekend


It’s a new year, so why not try something new this weekend with the fam? Take a whirl around the ice rink on skates or go-karts at the Newark Winter Village in Newark,  watch Lion Dancing and celebrate the Year of the Rabbit at the Lunar New Year Celebration in East Brunswick, or see trains at the 20th Annual Antique Toy Train Show in Deptford. And for more January fun, check out free things to do all month. (featured photo credit: istock/Imgorthand)

(Note: It’s always best to check ahead for in-person events)

Wonderous Winter Walk at Hartshorne Wood Park
January 4 at 10 AM
Dress up in your winter gear and tag along with a Park System Naturalist as you explore Hartshorne Woods Park in the wintertime. Meet in the Rocky Point parking lot in Highlands. This event is open to all ages, under 18, with adults. 
Cost: Free
1402 Portland Road, Highlands, NJ (Rocky Point Entrance) 07732 

Newark Winter Village
January 4-15
It’s an outdoor festival with food, ice skating, a marketplace, and a private igloo rental. And for an exhilarating way to slide around, try a go-kart on the ice (reservations are required).
Cost: Prices vary per event
162 Mulberry Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Super Pet Expo
January 6-8
Bring your friendly leashed pet along to experience Celebrity Dog Shows, The Doggie Derby with Dachshund, Corgi, and Mixed Breed Races, the Ultimate Dog Ball Pit, workshops like How to Get Your Pet Into Show Business, Jersey Agility (JAG), and watch a Celebrity Catwalk. 
Cost: $10 and up
New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, 97 Sunfield Avenue, Edison, NJ 08837

Bergen County’s Winter Wonderland at Van Saun Park
January 6-February 24
Enjoy the fresh air with the family for open skate time at Van Saun Park. 
Cost: Starting at $10
Van Saun County Park, 216 Forest Ave., Paramus, NJ 07652

Family Hike at Whitesbog
January 7 at 10:30 AM
Bundle up with the family and take a guided winter walk at Whitesbog in Pemberton Township.
Cost: Free
Whitesbog Historic Village, 120 West Whites Bogs Road #34 Pemberton Township, NJ 08015

Lunar New Year 
January 7 at 11:30 AM
Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit at Brunswick Square Mall’s second annual Lunar New Year Celebration. There will be Lion Dancing, Asian school performances, complimentary refreshments from EB Chinese, and crafts for the kids. 
Cost: Free
755 State Route 18, East Brunswick, NJ 08816

Dowe Township Polar Plunge and Chili Cookoff
January 7 at 2 PM
Jump into the Delaware Bay for a chilly polar plunge and then head to the Fortescue Firehall for hot chocolate, chili, and cornbread for a cookoff where prizes will be awarded for the best chili and cornbread. 
Cost: $0-$15
Fortescue Beach, New Jersey Avenue Budney Avenue, Fortescue, NJ 08321

Patcong Valley Model Railroad Open House
January 7 and 8 at 10 AM
Take in the sights and sounds while exploring the layout of the Patacong Valley Model Railroad. It takes about 30-45 minutes to view the entire setup. Don’t miss the seek-and-find puzzles ranging from easy to complex. 
Cost: Free
1308 US-40, Richland, NJ 08350

Garden State Model Railway Club
January 7-8
Enjoy refreshments while seeing Thomas The Tank Engine, a kid-friendly train layout and family-friendly fun for everyone.
Cost: Donation of $8 for adults
575 High Mountain Road, North Haledon, NJ 07508

Sunset Beach: A Place For All Seasons
January 8 at 9 AM
Part of the world-famous Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, the Sunset Beach area hosts an array of birds, including sparrows, warblers, hawks, and waterbirds. This mile-and-a-half guided walk includes nearby areas of Magnesite Plant, Davey’s Lake, and Pond Creek Marsh. 
Cost: Free
502 Sunset Boulevard, Cape May, NJ 08204

Experience The Battle of Princeton 2023
January 8 at 9:30 AM
Step back to January 3, 1777, and teach your kids about history as you watch reenactors representing the Continental and Crown infantry and artillery units on the field. They will recreate a portion of the Battle of Princeton with an explanatory narrative. After, explore the Thomas Clarke House on a guided tour. 
Cost: $10 per adult and anyone 15 or older
500 Mercer Street, Princeton, NJ 08540

Winery Weekends Music Series with Firepits and Mulled Wine
January 8 at 12 PM
Meet with family and friends at Terhune Orchards to enjoy live music with hot mulled wine, light bites, and wine by the glass. All ages can have fun with s’mores and hot cocoa kits. Light bites of cheese plates, chips, and salsa baskets will also be available at the winery. 
Cost: No admission fee
Terhune Orchards, 330 Cold Soil Road, Princeton, NJ 08540

Stories By The Fireside
January 8 and February 12
Cozy up by the Nature Center’s fireplace and listen to stories of nature and wildlife, followed by a warm mug of hot chocolate.
Cost: Free
157 Westcott Ave., Hamilton, NJ 08610

The 20th Annual Antique Toy Train Show 
Now-January 29
At this lively display, adults and kids can observe vintage trains from the 1930s, 40s, and ’50s. There will be collections of Lionel, Marx, and American Flyer engines with adjoining cars that will race on two platforms along with vintage buildings and landscapes. 
Cost: $3 for kids and $4 for adults 
138 Andaalaro Way, Deptford, NJ 08093

Ongoing Events

Brookhollow’s Barnyard
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until January 6
Explore the farm and see all of the lights for the holiday season. This year, they’ll be doing a walk-through where you can see and feed animals from 4 PM to 6:30 PM. Train rides will be available during the walk-through; the drive-through will be 7 PM – 8:30 PM. 
Cost: $9.50 for the walk-through (under two is free); $20 per car for the drive-through. 
301 Rockaway Valley Road, Boonton, NJ 07005

Holiday Light Show on the Lake
Now-January 6
Visit Historic Smithville to ride the carousel and roast s’mores by the firepits on the green. Then watch favorite holiday tunes synchronized to a unique light display. There will be over 120 Christmas trees, constructed from 50,000+ Christmas lights, magically floating atop Lake Meone in the center of the village. An orchestrated show of lights dances across the water to Christmas music when the sky is dark. The show can be seen from either side of the village and the bridge.
Cost: Free
Historic Smithville Village, 
615 E Moss Mill Road, Smithville, NJ 08205

Festival of Trees
Now-January 8, Wednesdays through Sundays
The whole family will enjoy this annual festival, where elegant galleries, mantels, and porches are artfully decorated for the holidays by local businesses, garden clubs, and non-profit organizations. 
Cost: $8 and up
Morven Museum and Garden, 55 Stockton St., Princeton, NJ 08540

Monmouth Museum Holiday Train Display
Now-January 8
Kids will love seeing this nostalgic display featuring Lionel Trains winding through an over 30ft exhibit of towns, mountains, cities, and more. Alongside the trains, the Main Gallery hosts a 20ft Holiday Tree and Pat Brentano’s “Consider the Trees” show. 
Cost: Free
Monmouth Museum, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738

Let It Glow
Now-January 15
It’s a holiday spectacular at the Bergen County Zoo with impressive, larger-than-life lantern displays of animals and nature that are awe-inspiring. Walk through the exhibits up close, then take a train ride through the zoo.  
Cost: $9 and up
Bergen County Zoo, 216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652

Winter Walk 
Now-January 15
Visit Taylor Park and enjoy magical light displays as you stroll along a path at the lake’s edge. After you and your family enjoy the lights, visit Millburn’s unique retailers and restaurants. The park is lit from 4:30 PM until 10:00 PM nightly.
Cost: Free to enter
100 Main Street, Millburn, NJ, 07041

Night Forms: Infinite Wave at Grounds For Sculpture
Now-April 2
The whole family will love to see the Grounds of Sculpture reimagined after hours, with a multi-sensory light and sound experience designed to engage with the art and horticulture collection. Spend the evening outdoors exploring the lighting, sound, and video projection mapping, and join the interactive exhibits, which will delight kids and adults. 
Cost: $22 and up
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ 08619

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About Author

Melanie Bodner has always had a love for writing, but now she has a new love…being a mom. Before having her kids, Melanie was no stranger to writing or working with children. She wrote for a local newspaper as a reporter and taught English and Dance in a public school. Now Melanie enjoys spending time with her kids, doing yoga, writing and decorating her home. Check out her Instagram @burlapbythebeach.